“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” Luke 2:4,5 (ESV)
The distance Joseph and Mary had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 80 miles. Since they were traveling by foot, it probably took them between 5-7 days to make the journey especially since Mary was at the end of her pregnancy. While many depictions of Joseph and Mary traveling have her riding on a donkey, there is no Biblical reference to confirm it. It’s certainly possible that Joseph arranged a donkey to help carry his pregnant wife, but it’s not a certainty.
The shortest distance would take them through Samaria, a region not particularly friendly to Jews. In addition, there were other dangers such as bandits and wild animals since lions and bears were known to inhabit Israel during this time.
This was not a pleasant journey.
With Mary at the end of her pregnancy, no doubt they were both very concerned about the possibility of labor starting during their travel, or as it turned out, while they were in Bethlehem. Maternal and infant mortality 2000 years ago were both very real possibilities and accentuated by delivering a child in unplanned circumstances without the assistance of someone experienced in childbirth.
Despite these many concerns, they both chose to place their faith in the Lord.
Our culture has wrapped the Christmas story into a nice, neat, and safe package without pointing out the many life-threatening situations facing this couple as they embarked on this journey. We also live in an age and society in which the chance of encountering danger is much less than Biblical times.
This has caused us to lose sight of much of what it means to trust in the Lord.
Mary and Joseph placed their lives in the hands of the Lord in a very tangible way, and He took care of them.
If the Lord asks you to embark on a journey that may hold risk, you can be sure that He will take care of you just as He did Mary and Joseph.
Prayer: Lord, show me what it looks like to have the faith of Mary and Joseph in today’s world.